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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book VI   

With this intention they sailed off to Naxos and Catana for the
winter. Meanwhile the Syracusans burned their dead and then held an
assembly, in which Hermocrates, son of Hermon, a man who with a
general ability of the first order had given proofs of military
capacity and brilliant courage in the war, came forward and encouraged
them, and told them not to let what had occurred make them give way,
since their spirit had not been conquered, but their want of
discipline had done the mischief. Still they had not been beaten by so
much as might have been expected, especially as they were, one might
say, novices in the art of war, an army of artisans opposed to the
most practised soldiers in Hellas. What had also done great mischief
was the number of the generals (there were fifteen of them) and the
quantity of orders given, combined with the disorder and
insubordination of the troops. But if they were to have a few
skilful generals, and used this winter in preparing their heavy
infantry, finding arms for such as had not got any, so as to make them
as numerous as possible, and forcing them to attend to their
training generally, they would have every chance of beating their
adversaries, courage being already theirs and discipline in the
field having thus been added to it. Indeed, both these qualities would
improve, since danger would exercise them in discipline, while their
courage would be led to surpass itself by the confidence which skill
inspires. The generals should be few and elected with full powers, and
an oath should be taken to leave them entire discretion in their
command: if they adopted this plan, their secrets would be better
kept, all preparations would be properly made, and there would be no
room for excuses.
The Syracusans heard him, and voted everything as he advised, and
elected three generals, Hermocrates himself, Heraclides, son of
Lysimachus, and Sicanus, son of Execestes. They also sent envoys to
Corinth and Lacedaemon to procure a force of allies to join them,
and to induce the Lacedaemonians for their sakes openly to address
themselves in real earnest to the war against the Athenians, that they
might either have to leave Sicily or be less able to send
reinforcements to their army there.
The Athenian forces at Catana now at once sailed against Messina, in
the expectation of its being betrayed to them. The intrigue,
however, after all came to nothing: Alcibiades, who was in the secret,
when he left his command upon the summons from home, foreseeing that
he would be outlawed, gave information of the plot to the friends of
the Syracusans in Messina, who had at once put to death its authors,
and now rose in arms against the opposite faction with those of
their way of thinking, and succeeded in preventing the admission of
the Athenians. The latter waited for thirteen days, and then, as
they were exposed to the weather and without provisions, and met
with no success, went back to Naxos, where they made places for
their ships to lie in, erected a palisade round their camp, and
retired into winter quarters; meanwhile they sent a galley to Athens
for money and cavalry to join them in the spring. During the winter
the Syracusans built a wall on to the city, so as to take in the
statue of Apollo Temenites, all along the side looking towards
Epipolae, to make the task of circumvallation longer and more
difficult, in case of their being defeated, and also erected a fort at
Megara and another in the Olympieum, and stuck palisades along the sea
wherever there was a landing Place. Meanwhile, as they knew that the
Athenians were wintering at Naxos, they marched with all their
people to Catana, and ravaged the land and set fire to the tents and
encampment of the Athenians, and so returned home. Learning also
that the Athenians were sending an embassy to Camarina, on the
strength of the alliance concluded in the time of Laches, to gain,
if possible, that city, they sent another from Syracuse to oppose
them. They had a shrewd suspicion that the Camarinaeans had not sent
what they did send for the first battle very willingly; and they now

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